St. John's Parts Ways With Steve Lavin | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / May 28.
  • St. John’s Parts Ways With Steve Lavin

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    NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-2nd Round-San Diego State vs St. John'sNEW YORK — St. John’s has parted ways with head coach Steve Lavin after five seasons.

    The news came Friday even after multiple media reports — including ESPN — reported this week that Lavin was in negotiations to receive a contract extension. reported Tuesday that Lavin’s future was in doubt and on Wednesday that no extension talks had yet taken place.

    Lavin had just completed Year 5 of his initial six-year deal and his buyout was in the neighborhood of $2 million.

    “In life change is inevitable, so I take the long view. I’m grateful for my time teaching at St. John’s University,” said Lavin. “I will take with me the lasting friendships forged during my tenure as Head Coach. I’m proud of our results both on and off the court – in particular our memorable runs to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2015. Most importantly, I take pride in our performance in the classroom having graduated our student athletes who will represent the institution in a first class manner.”

    Zagoria on Lavin departure…

    “I enjoyed celebrating our student-athletes’ accomplishments in my first year at St. John’s,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President, St. John’s University. “We look forward to building on this foundation as we strive to continue the tradition of success that the St. John’s basketball program has achieved for more than 100 years.”

    Former St. John’s and NBA legend Chris Mullin and Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley are expected to be the leading candidates to replace Lavin, sources told Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino and Iona coach Tim Cluess are also possibilities.

    “A national search is underway for a candidate who possesses the characteristics to give our program an opportunity to successfully compete at the national level,” St. John’s AD Chris Monasch said. “We will be aggressive in our search for a coach who has a track record of success, understands all the requirements of running a high major basketball program in New York City, including the media demands within this market. We are seeking someone who embraces the St. John’s mission and tradition, including the ability to attract the top talent both nationally and internationally.”

    It could be an old-school vs. new-school thing where the old-school guys want Mullin, and the new-school guys prefer Hurley, or possibly Masiello.

    One source said Mullin would have an edge, but it remains unclear if he wants the job.

    “He’s the most famous person in the school history, he’s going to have a decided edge on whatever name comes up,” the source said. “Whether he takes it or not, I don’t know. At one point there was mutual interest but that guy’s got a pretty good damn life.”

    Lavin, 50, was on record saying that he believed he would get an extension and that he needed one to be effective in recruiting going forward.

    St. John’s lost Friday night to San Diego State in Charlotte in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament, and lost its last three games by double-figures.

    Lavin was 226-133 for his career at UCLA and St. John’s, including an 81-55 mark with the Red Storm. He guided them to two NCAA Tournaments and two NITs, but this year’s team was plagued by academic eligibility issues in which both Keith Thomas and Adonis De La Rosa were deemed ineligible, crippling the team’s frontcourt.

    Sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan was also reprimanded for making a homophobic Tweet, and junior big man Chris Obekpa was suspended two weeks on Selection Sunday for failing a drug test because of marijuana use.

    Without Obekpa, the Johnnies could not defend the rim against San Diego State.

    Hired away from ESPN in 2010 to replace Norm Roberts, Lavin revived St. John’s national profile by signing an elite recruiting class in 2011 that included Maurice Harkless, JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle, Amir Garrett, D’Angelo Harrison and others.

    But the class took a major hit when Sampson, Pelle and Garrett were deemed ineligible by the NCAA that fall.

    Sampson and Garrett later enrolled at St. John’s, and both Harkless and Sampson ultimately landed in the NBA, while Garrett later left the school to pursue a baseball career.

    The remaining core, including Harrison, Phil Greene IV and Sir’Dominic Pointer, guided this year’s team to the NCAA Tournament but did not have enough complementary talent to make a run.

    “It’d be a whole other kind of team,” Harrison said last month. “If Moe was still here, maybe would have stayed two, three years. JaKarr, too, but they’re pros and if we had them, it would be crazy. It would be a whole different kind of team.”

    Vin Parise on Lavin firing

    Photo: USA Today Sports

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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